Conditions recommended for implementation
A clear program logic
The program logic used needs to be congruent with:
- the outcomes intended to be achieved
- the nature and extent of service types funded by DCCSDS for delivery by the sector
- the communities and community members services are delivered to, and
- the tools/approaches used to measure outcomes.
Avoiding unintended negative consequences
The approach to outcome measurement should build processes in to neutralise the potential for unintended negative consequences for clients, organisations or DCCSDS. It is important to design a system that ensures:
- organisations working with clients who have complex needs are not judged to be less effective than organisations working with clients who have less complex needs, based on the extent of outcomes achieved
- clients who have less complex needs are not prioritised over clients who have more complex needs on the basis that this approach will enable outcome targets to be more readily achieved within available resources
- in situations where factors are beyond the control of the client, the organisation or the intervention approach, interventions or organisations are not judged to be ineffective based on outcome measures alone.
Use of appropriate outcome measurement tools
In some circumstances the sector and DCCSDS may agree on a standardised tool for outcome measurement for a specific program. In other circumstances, different organisations may assess the achievement of agreed outcomes using different tools/approaches. In either case, the recommended approach will:
- be evidence based
- objectively measure change over time and be sensitive to both incremental, stepwise change and more radical, transformative change
- provide relevant evidence of achievement against the program logic
- ideally, triangulate evidence from different sources such as the individual or family’s perspective, service provider, and other relevant sources
- be proportionate to the program investment in terms of cost and time to implement
- be reasonably based on the resources available to the organisation
- not foster unintended negative consequences for clients, the organisation, or DCCSDS, and
- include data definitions relevant to the tool/approach that support understanding by clients, service providers and DCCSDS.
Access to data collection and reporting systems
Organisations require access to data collection and reporting systems that efficiently and effectively support outcome measurement.
The demands of these systems in terms of system commissioning, staff training, operational use, and reporting needs to be proportionate to the organisation’s resources and capacity and the resources provided through the funded program.
Opportunities for knowledge and skill development
The requirement to report on program outcomes is a significant shift in the approach to performance measurement of programs funded by DCCSDS. The change impacts on approaches to practice with clients as well as organisational administration.
Effective implementation will require appropriate skill development regarding outcome measurement generally and the reliable and effective use of specific tools/approaches for specific programs.
Opportunities to refine approaches to outcome measurement
As noted in these recommendations for implementation, a continuous improvement approach needs to be taken to guide the progressive establishment of outcome measurement for programs funded by DCCSDS.
Systems need to be established to guide this continuous improvement approach within individual organisations and to feed the knowledge and experience gained at the organisational level into system-wide, integrated continuous improvement that supports ongoing co-design.